U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has offered a new reason regarding the U.S. Department of Justice's lack of criminal prosecution against Wall Street executives at the core of the 2008 economic crash: Prosecuting these executives could damage the economy.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Holder, during an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, blamed the concept of ‘too big to fail’ for his department's lack of prosecutorial pursuit of the Wall Street elite.
‘I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them,’ said Holder. ‘If you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.’
Holder did not cite specific cases in which his department deferred court action based on the ‘too big to fail’ principle, nor did he explain how the criminal prosecution of an individual executive could start a domino effect that would ultimately wreck the economy. However, he claimed that federal prosecutors were ‘as aggressive as they could be [and] brought cases where we think we could have brought them.’
Following the hearing, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, issued a statement that slammed Holder's comments as ‘stunning,’ adding that the Attorney General ‘recognized that, in effect, the big banks and their senior executives have a get-out-of-jail-free card.’